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120,000 Palestine Refugee Students in Jordan Return to UNRWA Schools
Ahmad Sa’feen began a new school year yesterday at one of 169 schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He, like his father and grandfather before him, is a passionate, determined and perseverant pupil who is looking beyond what the school will offer and to what the future can hold for him if he studies and works hard.
Jordan is home to over 2.3 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA and the Agency’s schools cater to nearly 120,000 of their girls and boys in grades 1-10, after which they either move onto government schools or to one of the Agency’s Technical and Vocational and Education and Training institutes (TVET).
“UNRWA is like my home,” said 13-year-old Sa’feen to the Agency’s senior managers who were visiting Nuzha school in North Amman on the first day of school. “I would like to know how UNRWA, despite the financial challenges it faces, can reassure me and all students that we will be able to come to school every year until the question of being a Palestine refugee is resolved.”
For nearly 70 years, UNRWA has safeguarded the right to education for Palestine refugee children and has provided inclusive and quality education in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, seeing some 2.5 million students graduate from the Agency’s schools since the 1950s. Its educational system aims to ensure that Palestine refugee students develop their full potential and become confident, innovative, questioning, thoughtful and open-minded, to uphold human values and tolerance.
“The fact that children go back to school every year may seem like a very normal thing to many,” says UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl after meeting a group of students from the Nuzha School. “But for Palestine refugee children, this is possibly the most important day of the year and a sign that dignity is preserved in their lives. Prioritizing education not only contributes to human development in this region, but also to its stability pending a just and lasting solution to the plight of Palestine refugees.”
UNRWA is grateful to all its partners for the support that allowed the Agency to open its schools in time, sending a strong and positive message to hundreds of thousands of students.
The UNRWA Nuzha School has just undergone major maintenance and rehabilitation works with generous support from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through the Saudi Fund for Development. Its classrooms and playgrounds boast colorful messages of hope. “We want to be able to study our way out of our condition, a condition of deep uncertainty,” said Sa’feen, “Education is our way out.”
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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